By Cassandra Balentine
Digital print technologies advance manufacturing with the ability to create custom, high-quality decoration on demand at attractive price points.
Based in Riverside, CA, Monster Media, Inc. is a large and grand format digital print company. Its display and sign work includes direct and wholesale printing. It specializes in a range of products, including point of purchase (POP) graphics, trade show printing, and banners.
However, Monster Media is much more than a wide format print provider. The company also operates a wood shop that supports three separate websites with niche focuses—Prints on Wood, Woodsnap, and Plywerk. The company employs a staff of 30, with 15 dedicated to print production and five in its wood shop.
Monster Media and its three distinct ecommerce sites are housed in a 15,000 square foot print shop along with a 2,500 square foot wood working shop. The operations are kept separate to ensure a clean print environment.
Prints on Wood
Prints on Wood specializes in creating wood prints for artists and photographers. This division of Monster Media Inc. spurred from a print order more than a decade ago that required printing to wood. Since then, the shop has mastered the art of using its grand format UV printers to create everything from custom printed table tops to POP displays and art for galleries.
It is a dual-focus business-to-business and business-to-consumer website that offers limited art prints, collectables, and a “create your own” section for consumers. Its target audience is both art collectors and consumers.
The company specializes in printing to birch and bamboo wood, it also offers maple photo blocks, photo tiles, and wooden gift and wine boxes.
The large format printing company is dedicated to creating wood prints for artists and photographers of all levels. Its motto says it all, “Art is our passion. Custom printing on wood is our expertise.” The company is able print almost anything onto a canvas of sustainable wood to create a truly unique image.
Printsonwood.com provides straight-edged wood panels and two finishes—bright white and raw wood.
Plywerk has a different story, as it came to Monster Media through an acquisition. Originating in Portland, OR, Plywerk is the passion project of a husband and wife team—a photographer and graphic designer—that began when a photo was mounted to a piece of plywood using wood glue. Going forward, the team sold photographs on maple plywood at local craft markets. It eventually moved a growing team out of a house-based operation into a new workshop. At this time it expanded its product line to offer more ways for customers to display photos and products. In 2016, the team was contacted by Derric Swinfard, president, Monster Media, when it announced it was shutting down shop. Monster Media’s Prints on Wood business was at the time one of Plywerk’s biggest competitors. Over a period of several months, the Plywerk crew transitioned the production from Portland, OR to Riverside, CA.
The company still offers the more labor-intensive option of printing and then mounting prints to wood or the alternative is digitally printing directly to plywood.
Another face of Monster Media is WoodSnap. Woodsnap.com enables business and consumer print buyers to purchase photo prints on wooden blocks and tiles.
According to the company, the process involves infusing the ink into the wood substrate, which allows colors to remain vibrant while having the wood grain show through to give it a natural and earthy look. It does not use white ink, so white areas of a photo are actually natural wood color showing through. They also use UV inks to protect the image on the wood print against sun exposure.
For wood prints the company uses birch panels. No two wood panels are the same so each panel features different grains. This also means the color of the printed image achieves a slightly “warmer” essence.
Wood photo blocks print on premium grade luster photo paper, which is a more traditional print method. This allows for the image color and clarity to remain just how it was captured or uploaded. Wood blocks are available in bamboo and black walnut.
Woodsnap offers cove cut wooden panels and only prints on natural grain. It is primarily a direct to consumer website.
Each of Monster Media’s wood-based ecommerce sites influences each other. The company’s in house wood shop enables it to control quality and costs. “We pretty much produce and make everything, we don’t outsource any part of our process,” shares Erin Swinfard, brand manager, Monster Media.
They explain that the difficult part of printing wood is sourcing and crafting the wood canvas. Woodsnap used to outsource its panels, but this lead to a lot of waste and inefficiencies. At one point, prior to Monster Media’s ownership, WoodSnap had a 1,500 square foot facility of misprints. Derric Swinfard assures that they now operate completely differently.
“We run a lean manufacturing process. We make what we need on demand and adjust based on the season,” note Derric and Erin Swinfard.
Since they manufacture the panels, they control this keeping waste down and quality up. Woodsnap’s photo blocks are domestically sourced from managed forests. The birch is the same type of plywood used for kitchen cabinets, which is sourced from Russia. Bamboo is a favorite of the company because it is a fast growing plant. It is sourced from China, but from a sustainability point of view it is the ideal wood choice.
The company chooses to keep its exact print methods proprietary, but shares that it looks to UV for its wood print. “UV is the fastest in terms of production and highest in quality,” says Derric Swinfard.
It also has CNC routing capabilities, which allows them to produce cut-to-shape products. These can be specially ordered from Monster Media.
Consumer and Corporate
Monster Media and its WoodSnap division produce a lot of corporate wood printing work, including signs and displays, POP, and wall murals.
For example, in the retail sector, WoodSnap produces large wood print wall décor collages for 5.11 Tactical store locations. 5.11 Tactical offers superior tactical apparel and gear for law enforcement, first responders, tactical operators, and recreational enthusiasts.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf contracted with the print provider to produce custom prints on wood as wall décor for all of its new domestic locations. WoodSnap successfully delivered numerous custom and over-sized prints on wood to meet the client’s aggressive deadlines.
Sony captured some of its most iconic films and showcased them via photos printed to wood in the entertainment giant’s executive offices.
Spike TV’s Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer came to WoodSnap with the idea of using its handcrafted wall decor wood prints for the renovated locations. According to the company, the positive feedback has been overwhelming from the patrons of the locations of each new episode.
One of Monster Media’s core principals is sourcing and producing its products in an eco-conscious manner. The company’s products are made with 100 percent solar energy, powered by 200 solar panels on its roof.
“To us, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing we are doing our best to reduce the impact our large format and wood printing business has on the planet,” says Derric and Erin Swinfard.
The company furthers its environmental commitment by giving back to the community. It believes environmentally responsible behavior is essential to its growth and long-term company success. The company has chosen to partner with Farmer’s Footprint, where it donates $1.00 for every order sold.
In addition to its success as an established provider of wide format graphics and displays, Monster Media finds a niche by manufacturing and printing photos to various wood-based canvases. With a creative vision, skill, and the latest printing and cutting technologies, the company offers beautiful prints for consumer and commercial clientele.
Nov2019, DPS Magazine